The Vaisesika system was founded by Kanada. It is so named in view of the fact that ‘visesasa’ as a category of knowledge has been elaborately discussed in it.
The founder of this philosophy, we are told, was surnamed ‘Kanada’ because he led the life of an ascetic and used to live on grains of corn gleaned from the field. He was also named Uluka. So the Vaisesika philosophy is also known the Kanada or Aulukya system.
The first systematic work of this philosophy is the Vaisesika- sutra of Kanada. It is divided into ten adhyayas or books, each insisting of two ahnikas or seconds.
Prasastapada’s Padartha- arina-sangraha, usually known as the Bhasya, reads like an independent exposition of the Vaisesika philosophy.
Further, we from two commentaries on Sankara’s Sariraka Bhasya that yomasiva’s Vyomavatl, Udayana’s KiranavaBand Sridhara’s). Aartdaliare three well-known and excellent commentaries akstdrthha and Rainaprabhha on Prasastapada’s work.
Jagadisa Tarkalahkara’s Sukti and Padmanabha Misra’s Setu are two less-known commentaries on the same work. Vallabhacarya’s Nyaya-lilavati and Udayana’s Laksanavall are two valuable compendiums of Vaisesika Philosophy.
The later works on the Vaisesika combine this system with the Nyaya. Of these Sivaditya’s Sapta-padarthi, Laugaksi Bhaskara’s Tarka-kaumudi and Visvanatha’s Bhasapariccheda with its commentary Sidahanta muktavali are important.
The Nyaya and the Vaisesika are allied systems of philosophy (samanatantra). They have the same end in view, namely, liberation of the individual self.
According to both, ignorance is the root cause of all pain and suffering; and liberation, which consists in their absolute cessadon, is to be attained through a right knowledge of reality.
There is, however, some difference between the two systems on two fundamental points. While the Nyaya accepts four independent sources of knowledge, namely, perception, inference, comparison and testimony.
The Vaisesika recognises only two, viz. perception and inference, and reduces comparison and verbal testimony to perception and inference.
Secondly, the Naiyayikas give us a list of sixteen padarthas which, according to them, cover the whole of reality and include those accepted in the other system. The Vaisesikas, on the other hand, recognise only seven padarthas and comprehend all reals under them.
These seven categories of reality are (a) dravya or substance, (b) guna or quality, (c) karma or acdon, (d) samanya or generality, (e) visesa or particularity, (f) samavayaor the relation of inherence and (g) abhava or non-existence. The Vaisesika philosophy is an elaboration and a critical study of these seven categories.
Padartha literally means the object denoted by a word. So by padartha we propose to mean all objects of knowledge or all reals.
Now, according to the Vaisesikas, all objects, denoted by words, may be broadly divided into two classes, namely, being and non-being (bhava and abhava).
Being stands for all that is or for all positive realities, such as existent physical things, minds, souls, etc. Similarly, non-being stands for all negative facts like the non-existence of things.
There are six kinds of being or positive realities, namely, substance, quality, action, generality, particularity and inherence. To these the later Vaisesikas added a seven padartha called abhava which stands for all negative facts.